To Our CourseStorm Community,
The events of the last several weeks have deeply saddened us at CourseStorm, and we stand in solidarity with the Black community in being outraged at systemic, ongoing abuses of power. We have taken time to gather, reflect, and discuss how our team can be part of creating a more just future for all. We understand that we need to start by recognizing our own privileges and how we have benefitted from racism, as well as our responsibility to undo it.
As a company with a mission to streamline access to education, we firmly believe that education is vital to a more socially just world. While refusing to be silent is an important first step, we also recognize that it is more important to take meaningful action. Our commitment will not only be in words but in actions as well.
With that in mind, we are committed to:
- Amplifying the educational opportunities offered by our customers who, through their organizations and classes, are working for social justice.
- Financially supporting organizations and individual classes that address systemic racism and work to end discrimination in all its forms.
- Annual training for our staff to recognize and combat discrimination, and strengthening our company anti-discrimination policy.
- Actively recruiting to build a diverse staff, advisors, and board.
We recognize that these steps at CourseStorm are simply a beginning and that we have a long way to travel. We are committed to continuing this work, and I believe firmly that through our actions, we can and will make a difference.
Brian Rahill is CEO and Cofounder of CourseStorm.
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” — Willa Cather
We have been carefully watching the effects that COVID-19 has had across the country, particularly on educational programs.
We understand the challenges that you’re working through: concerns about lost revenue, ongoing expenses, and what registration volume may look like for your organization over the near and medium-term.
While we can’t tell you when things will return to “normal,” we’re confident that normalcy will return. To that end, we’d like to share some strategies to help provide continuity for your organization and learning community over the coming weeks and months.
Instead of Cancelling
While your first reaction might be to cancel classes altogether, there are other options at your disposal that you may be overlooking.
#1: Don’t cancel, postpone
No one really wants a class to cancel. Not you, not the instructor, nor the students who were excited to attend. While they may be absent for the next few weeks during this crisis, their interest in class is unlikely to abate. If you can, consider postponing your classes instead of canceling, so that when things calm down, everyone can still get the class they were looking forward to. Postponing also allows you to keep more cash with your organization rather than refunding it all back to the student.
#2: Consider remote instruction
Follow the lead of many higher education institutions and consider temporarily shifting existing classes to remote instruction through video. Many classes and presentations can be live broadcast to attendees with affordable and accessible software solutions. From Vimeo or YouTube’s live streaming services to conferencing providers like Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.
For example, rather than cancel a show, one arts organization we follow is recording its spring youth drama performance and providing streaming video access to its ticket holders. A great, creative solution to the problem at hand!
If you must cancel
We understand. Here are some tips to help reduce the impact to your program.
#1 Use promo codes
Instead of refunds, offer customers credit for future classes to replace the class they’re unable to take. As mentioned above, this helps your business keep cash on hand which is more important than ever when facing unprecedented circumstances.
#2: Convert to donation
Give your students the chance to donate the cost of their class to your program rather than take a refund.
#3: Increase your online class offerings
Consider adding classes to your program that are already designed for independent learning. For community education programs, ed2go offers a suite of excellent online classes you can resell at your program.
#4: Call your insurance agent
Your organization may have insurance coverage that can help reduce the effect of the disruption (ask about coverage from “event insurance” or “business disruption insurance”). It’s certainly worth checking with your provider.
#5: Use this downtime to prepare for the upswing
While your program may be quiet over the coming weeks, this is a perfect time to start planning your next move. After lots of time stuck indoors, students will be jumping at the chance to make up for lost time. With proper planning, you can be sure to be there right when they need you.
Keep in mind that decisions made today don’t have to be final or absolute. It’s ok to make a decision that affects your immediate needs without trying to plan for the entire future. Use this opportunity to run an experiment and try something new. If it works, you may just end up with a new tool in your toolbelt!
More resources to come
While all this continues to unfold, we at CourseStorm will be researching best practices and providing resources to help affected programs make the best of a hard situation.
We genuinely respect that this situation is causing a financial burden for many programs and we’re working on a plan to help lessen the financial burden for our most heavily affected clients. We will be sharing more information about our plans in the coming week.
Until then, even if we’re technically isolated, we will all be pulling together, learning together, and adapting together.
Be well. ❤️
I had been running my own web development company for several years when I hired an enterprising young software engineer named Matt James. I didn’t realize at the time that this programmer would not only become the leader of our product development team but, ultimately, the designer of what would become CourseStorm, a business we would cofound. In 2015, Matt became CourseStorm’s first employee and has kept his eyes on the horizon since — always growing in ways to best impact and guide the company. As his leadership skills have expanded, so have his responsibilities, and today, I am excited to name Matt the Chief Operating Officer of CourseStorm!
This occasion has provided me with a chance to reflect on our decade of work together across two different companies. Growing a startup is hard work, and having Matt as a co-founder has made all the difference in our success. I’d like to share some of the essential lessons I have learned from Matt during our time working together. They’re excellent lessons for both business and life.
It’s no secret that here at CourseStorm, we like to make things simple. Take a look at our pricing page, for example. We don’t offer a Silver plan, a Gold plan, and a Platinum plan. There’s just one plan: CourseStorm.
Why is this so important to us?
When’s the last time you remember being truly bored?
That’s the question Manoush Zomorodi posed to us at the LearnLaunch Conference in Boston last month. Zomorodi, author of Bored and Brilliant, went on to explain that we get our most creative ideas when our mind goes on autopilot—when we’re taking a shower, for example, or driving our car on the way to work. When our brains are allowed to go into default mode, our subconscious makes itself known and makes new connections. In short, boredom unlocks our minds’ creative potential.
At a time when the skilled labor gap is an economic reality, Adult Education programs are doing the heavy lifting. Successful Adult Education programs play a critical role in our local and national economies. It is as true today as it’s ever been: a strong Adult Education program means a strong community – one that serves the needs of the labor market and the needs of individuals that make up their student population.